The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family
by Ron Howard and Clint Howard
Release Date: Oct 12, 2021
Publisher: William Morrow
Review by Lee Sobel (11/21/21)
5 out of 5 stars
I’m going to get right to the point of my review of The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Ron Howard and Clint Howard: this may be the most perfect showbiz memoir I have ever read.
There are a lot of memoirs and biographies I have read where somewhere around 2/3 of the way into the book I lose all interest in it. It’s generally because the latter part of someone’s career tends to decline in one way or another and reading about their dealing with failures after they have had huge success in their life can get pretty anticlimactic. There's the usual bottoming out, going to AA, finding religion, or just falling completely apart to nothingness. Been there, read that.
The Boys is refreshingly entertaining, moving, funny, insightful, warm and just lovely to read. It's not just the story of two child stars but what came before, during and after their stars shined so brightly at such a young age. The idea of two brothers writing a memoir together is unique and they pull it off with flying colors.
Clint Howard's claim to fame was mainly early in his life. Yes, he's continued to work as a character actor but to put our cards on the table here, his career doesn't hold a match to the mega stardom his brother Ron has experienced, in front of and behind the camera.
So, at first glance you might wonder how a book written by the two of them, ping-ponging off each other, where one has been so much more successful than the other, could possibly work. Well, it does work because they both bring different things to the party: Ron is occasionally angsty, wringing his hands and losing hair when Fonzie becomes the center of the Happy Days phenomenon which Ron was the star of and how his ambition to become a movie director burned within him; Clint finds humor from the moment he's a baby peeing on his big brother's head and cackling at him to his bizarro career in tons of cult flicks.
The book is a love letter to their parents who made many sacrifices to enable their boys to have careers as child stars - Ron on The Andy Griffith Show and later Happy Days (with a starring role in George Lucas' American Graffiti in between) and Clint on Gentle Ben with a memorable guest appearance in an early episode of Star Trek in 1966 (he's immediately recognized as Balok from Trek when he goes in to audition for George Lucas when they were casting Star Wars).
The book gives some insights into how Ron and Clint approached their jobs as child actors. They let you in on some tricks of the trade and there are some entertaining stories about the people they worked with and some of the razzing they endured when they would return to public school when they weren’t working. Somehow they managed to live both as normal people and Hollywood stars. They had wonderful guidance from their loving and thoughtful parents.
As a fan of pretty much everything Ron Howard has done in his career, I loved hearing the stories about American Graffiti and how Ron made the transition from actor to director. Clint seems like a pisser - someone I'd love to hang out with and have a laugh. You'll feel like you hung out with both of them if you read this memoir masterpiece.